How to Buy a Used Sewing Machine

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How to Buy a Used Sewing Machine

For one who is new to sewing machines, it makes sense to buy a sewing machine model that is user-friendly. Such a choice enables the user to assimilate the basics, before learning to operate the more complex sewing machine functions. Simple to operate, pre-loved sewing machine are readily available and do not cost much money.

Due to the high cost of sewing machines, buying a used machine can represent excellent value, as long as the buyer is in a position to compare a wide range of models and prices before making a purchase. In a selecting a used machine, the buyer needs to consider her needs, and whether parts for the used machine are readily available. The best way to gain access to the breadth of choice needed to compare used sewing machines is to venture online. eBay offers a vast selection of used sewing machines at competitive prices.

The Purpose of the Sewing Machine

The first thing to consider when buying a used sewing machine is the needs of the user. There are a variety of machines to choose from, including modern, computerised, plastic-bodied sewing machines, and traditional metal-bodied sewing machines, which, while lacking all the bells and whistles of the computerised versions, the traditional, mechanical sewing machine is likely to be built like a tank and keep on sewing through thick and thin.

One matter to keep front of mind, is that modern computerised machines are likely to offer a variety of stitches. On the other hand, most people rarely use these fancy stitching features, and as long as the sewing machine is capable of zig zagging, it is capable of fulfilling most users' needs.

Making Clothes and Performing Alterations

Users who are planning to make clothing, or to carry out general repairs or alterations,  need no more than the basic range of stitches. But users who are fond of craftwork such as quilting, probably would want to the whole gamut of stitches available to them.

An essential requirement for anyone contemplating making clothing is a free arm, as this feature allows the necessary manoeuvrability required to sew sleeves and and hem trousers.

Sewing Upholstery

Another category of user includes those interested in upholstering, or reupholstering, furniture such as settees or chairs. This can involve sewing through some very thick fabrics. Such heavy upholstery fabrics place a far greater strain on the sewing machine than clothing or most soft home furnishings. For this reason, a heavy duty sewing machine is recommended for sewing upholstering.

The Different Types of Sewing Machines

As with any equipment, making the ideal choice depends on understanding the differences between the various types of sewing machines. This chart sets out the advantages and limitations of the main choices available when looking for a sewing machine.

Mechanical  Sewing Machines

Electronic Sewing Machines

Computerised Sewing Machines

Basic; no electronic foot pedal; only essential features.

Electronic foot pedal keeps hands free for better control

Several motors for control of all functions; often come with PC  connectivity for complex designs; many different stitches available.

Cheaper and user can master the basics quickly

More expensive

Can be costly, and really only recommended for the advanced user

Which of these options is most suitable depends on both the purpose of the sewing machine and the experience of the user. For a beginner, the advanced features of a computerised model might be confusing, whereas the extra physical demands of a mechanical model might also be difficult at first. An electronic sewing machines is likely to be best for most people.

Whether to go for a straightforward mechanical model, or a mid-range electronic one, is a personal choice. Most new users would probably appreciate the electronic foot pedal, and the convenience of having a motor do all the work, leaving the user's hands and brain free to concentrate on the job.

For an experienced sewing machine user, buying a used sewing machine should not be a difficult task, as they are already be familiar with the different advantages of the various types of machine. All that is required in this situation is to ensure that the used machine functions properly and is in good condition.

An overlockerr is smaller, lighter and cheaper than an ordinary sewing machine, and has a limited range of functions. This machine is very useful for taking up hems or making curtains, but cannot make buttonholes or do fancy stitching.

What to Look Out For in a Used Sewing Machine

Mechanical machines may be thought of by most as being more reliable than modern electronic ones, which in turn may be thought more dependable than the all-singing and dancing computerised sewing machines. Certainly there is less scope for things to go wrong as there are fewer moving parts and no potential software bugs to contend with. But by the same token, the absence of many features makes a manual sewing machine more limiting.

A Local Dealer or Service Centre

It is only common sense to choose a make of sewing machine that can be serviced locally, where replacement parts are easy to source. Therefore, it may be wise to check to see which brands have local dealerships or authorised service centres. This is especially important when buying an older model of sewing machine, for which parts may be in short supply.

Following on from this, be very careful about buying a used sewing machine in the expectation of getting it repaired. If the parts are not available, the used sewing machine is then effectively useless.

The User Manual

The time inevitably comes when any sewing  machine either needs repair or at least servicing and cleaning. Servicing and cleaning are essential to keeping the sewing machine in tip-top working order. To maintain a sewing machine and troubleshoot any issues that may arise, it is wise to have the machine's user manual handy. An owner's manual should also be helpful in figuring out how to adjust tension knobs and generally for getting the best out of the sewing machine. Before committing to buying the machine, the buyer should check to to see whether the manual is included or if one is available for download on the Internet.

Size and Weight of the Sewing Machine

A consideration often overlooked when choosing a sewing machine, especially an older, mechanical model, is the machine's weight. If the sewing machine is to be housed in one spot, say a spare room repurposed as a sewing room, then this may not matter, but if it the user needs to be set up and then pack away the machine after each use, say to clear the dining room table, repeated heavy lifting may become a drag.

Sources for Used Sewing Machines

For new and experienced users alike, the trick when searching for a used sewing machine is to look in the right place. This means finding a venue with a very wide selection, giving the best possible chance of finding a used sewing machine that is suitable and offered at a good price. Rather than spending time driving around searching, the quickest and easiest way to do this is generally to look online, where eBay has a massive selection of used sewing machines available.

Finding a Used Sewing Machine on eBay

Finding a used sewing machine on eBay is easy. Just type a search term into the search bar on the eBay home page, and hit the return key. A good search phrase would be something generic like 'sewing machines&'. This search phrase brings up thousands of listings for sewing machines currently listed for sale.

You can narrow down the options by specifying those characteristics and features that are important to you. This may include a sewing machine made by a particular manufacturer, or a sewing machine which is computerised. If you are looking just for a used sewing machine, you can instruct the search engine to only display machines listed as 'used&'. This process should narrow the listings down to a much smaller number, which you can browse through at your leisure.

Read the descriptions thoroughly and look carefully at the photos to determine if the machine meets your requirements. If buying a used machine, you can specify that you only want to see listings within a set radius of your address. This makes it easy to  inspect a machine you like. If you have any questions about a particular machine, contact the seller through the information on their profile page. Ask, for example, whether all the feet are accounted for, as these can be expensive to replace. Also consider asking specifically whether the pedal functions properly.


Sewing machines are useful for many household tasks. They come in several different formats, the principal ones being mechanical, electronic, and computerised sewing machines. There are also smaller, simpler sewing machines called overlockers, which only have some basic functions. The choice of sewing machine depends on what use it is put to.

A mechanical sewing machine typically has fewer functions, but such a machine is easy to master and because there are less features, there is less that can go wrong with such a machine. An electronic sewing machine has a foot pedal, allowing the the user to work hands free, and a motor to do the hard work. Computerised sewing machines have several motors and can frequently carry out complex designs that are accessible using a PC connection. Computerised machines give the user access to a plethora of designs and features, but such a machine takes some time to master.

A used sewing machine can save the buyer money, whichever category it may fall fall into. When buying a used sewing machine, it is important to assess the condition of the machine and determine whether replacement parts are readily available. The best way to find a used sewing machine at a good price is to look online, where eBay has thousands of listings for used sewing machines.

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